A year like no other
The end of one year and the beginning of another often provide time for reflection. In the world of professional golf, there is much to reflect upon after a year that wasn’t short of surprises.
From the PGA Tour’s unexpected merger with LIV Golf to the rumoured collapse of the aforementioned merger and then Jon Rahm’s stunning defection to LIV, it has, to say the least, been a turbulent year for golf.
I am proud to join @livgolf_league and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport. I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.
Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmOfficial) December 7, 2023
Most of these changes point towards a future where two professional golf leagues operate side by side. In theory, there shouldn't be anything wrong with that and this should in practice, offer golf fans more viewing choices. The problem however, is that LIV Golf in its current form is unwatchable.
It's unfortunate because having an alternative league to watch is commonplace for most other sports.
LIV, laugh, switch off
Take football, for example, when fans don’t want to sit through an entire Super Sunday match. They have the choice of switching over to one of the other top leagues in Europe, which are more likely to offer compelling viewing.
Whether it's games involving Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, or Paris Saint-Germain, having multiple leagues on the go provides entertainment and captivating subplots during the Premier League’s war of attrition fixtures.
The same could also be true in golf whenever a PGA Tour event like the Rocket Mortgage Classic is played as fans would benefit from switching over to LIV Golf to watch an alternative tournament. As it stands, this isn't a viable option as the rival competition to the PGA Tour doesn't capture the imagination for a few reasons.
To start with, LIV’s events offer very little in the way of jeopardy; last place in the 13 events in the upcoming 2024 season will take home a minimum of £100,000. It’s ultimately hard to get invested in the trials and tribulations of a player’s round when they are guaranteed to make an eye-watering amount of money, irrespective of whether they shoot 65 or 95.
In addition, the LIV only 'works' if it maintains the status of a lucrative league, full of the planet's best players who have thoroughly earned a place among champions. The inescapable truth, however, is that LIV’s roster is littered with players who happen to be in the right place at the right time in history. Recent LIV addition Kieran Vincent is a good example of this as the Zimbabwean managed to earn his invite to the Saudi-backed league, despite being ranked as world number 403.
Congratulations @KalleSamooja Kozuma Jinichiro and Kieran Vincent. Welcome to LIV.
— Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman) December 10, 2023
Of course, it would be unfair to say that all of LIV’s roster is undeserving of the lavish rewards they are getting. Jon Rahm, for instance, is one of the best golfers in the world and will start 2024 as the favourite (he's currently priced at odds of 8/1) to defend the Green Jacket he won at Augusta National in 2023.
To that end, golf fans who think that LIV’s most high-profile player can make it to back-to-back titles at the Masters can claim free bet no deposit bonuses from this list of bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Fafabet, and Midnite, which are offering up to £50 in some instances.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of early Masters bets have been placed on the Spaniard, and for good reason; Rahm is virtually unstoppable on his day. With Rahm’s career record in mind, you can’t begrudge him the rewards that being the globe’s best player brings.
Golf's gold rush
Most of LIV’s other players, however, are benefiting from being caught up in the civil war going on in professional golf. They're not to blame and are simply making the best of a fortune situation but equally, most people aren't going to go out of their way to watch them play.
That is LIV Golf in a nutshell - the unconvincing product on offer doesn't match the astronomical prizes being handed out. It's a blueprint for failure and will ensure that the majority of golf fans remain sceptical in 2024.